Beam (Fellow Travelers, 1987) gets some rather obvious satirical mileage--but not many laughs--out of his second novel, this one about selling the American Way in a dusty corner of conquered Russia. In 1999, a post-Gorbachev Soviet Union fires the first shot of WW III, over in 20 minutes in a sort of real-life computer game with no casualties. The victorious US, headed by President Arnold Schwarzenegger, picks out the lackluster area of Uglich on the Volga for a model experiment in democracy. Put in charge is Martin Teasdale, undercover CIA agent who knows Russia, has a feeling for it, and takes up his task with good will. But he is stymied by the Russianness of the Russians, the Americanness of the Americans, and a host of scheming mischief-makers. His chief ally is the laid-back Melor (acronym of Marx, Engels, Lenin, October Revolution), his KGB counterpart. Among Teasdale's opponents are Dyermoyed, ousted party boss who runs against him in an election; Moronin, a young man hipped on revolutionary texts who takes to the hills with a ragtag army; and T. Makkro Fixx, American entrepreneur intent on using the populace for unethical experiments. Teasdale's main personal enemy appears to be his wife--a lazy, neofeminist virago who won't give him the time of day, let alone her body. The unlikely result of this soured union are two lively young daughters who take to Russia with zest. Besides having fun with the oil-and-water culture clash, Beam plays with the mergers he envisions down the road, creating such entities as the Lord and Ann Taylor store, Sonysonic telephone, BMVW car, and USA-Times newspaper. A mildly entertaining muddle that often relies too much on exaggeration, Mad magazine-fashion, to score its points about Russians and Americans.